What to Do When You’re Going Under

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt” (Matthew 14:28–31, ESV)?

Matthew 14:22–33 describes a night the disciples were caught in a storm after Jesus sent them to cross the Sea of Galilee. About half of the disciples were fishermen, so they weren’t clueless about the danger. It’s hard to know who was more afraid—those who didn’t know what could happen or those who did. Either way, there was a boatload of nervous men on the water that night.

As the wind and the waves threatened to take them under, Jesus walked by—on the water! With no flashlight on board, all they could see was a dim figure making His way through the swells toward the boat. Their fear of the storm may have paled in comparison to their terror over what they thought was a ghost! The disciples “cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’” (14:26b–27).

Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (14:28). He apparently concluded, If Jesus says I can walk on water, I can walk on water. As usual, Peter’s mouth and actions were about ten seconds ahead of his brain. But Jesus called him to come, and over the side of the boat Peter went. Imagine his wonder when the water held him up and he started to walk right on the surface of the water—like a kid playing on a waterbed.

Peter was doing so well, “but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’” (14:30). What went wrong? Taking his eyes off the Lord, Peter forgot the reason he could walk across the waves in the first place. When he lost his focus on the Lord, fear entered his heart, and he started to go under.

Has that happened to you? When your eyes were on the Lord, you were at peace no matter what was going on around you. But the moment you changed your focus to the wind and waves, you went under.

Where are your eyes today?

If you’re sinking, it may be because you are looking at the waves of your health, finances, or relationships. Or maybe you’ve been listening to the howling wind of the culture, taking your cues from what others are saying and doing instead of keeping your mind stayed on Christ (Isaiah 26:3).

But you don’t have to go under. Like Peter, if you get distracted and start to sink, it’s time to call out, “Lord, save me!” When you do, Jesus will immediately reach out His hand to you, as He did for Peter (14:31). Doubting leads to sinking, but the Christian way is a life of faith. In order to stand in faith, you need to hold on to God’s Word. Jesus said He will never leave me or forsake me—I believe He is with me. God says He’s my refuge and strength in trouble—I will run to Him now. I don’t always understand God’s ways—but I trust Him; He’s in charge.

As you keep your eyes on the One who can keep your faith strong, you’ll find yourself on the surface and walking by faith, even when the storms rage around you.


  • What does it mean to keep your mind stayed on Christ? What storms, winds, or waves in your life are distracting you from this?
  • What’s usually your first clue that you’ve taken your eyes off the Lord? How can you recognize this more quickly and learn to respond differently?

Lord, I don’t want every storm to feel like my first time out on the water. Help me remember all the times You have been faithful. Forgive me when I forget the constant demonstrations of Your care. Forgive the way I’m prone to wander. Help me keep my mind focused on your steadfast love that won’t change with my circumstances. Thank You for being as patient with me as You are faithful to me. Please guide me toward greater faithfulness to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.